MORE of the same please. After a fairly uninspiring entree last week, let’s hope the main course continues to be as appetising as the fair dished up in Perth tonight.
This offered everything we want from the A-League; thrilling entertainment, quality imports, quality set-pieces, passion, brain over brawn, flowing attack, an emphasis on forward thinking and, “at long last” (to borrow a phrase made popular by Simon Hill), some wonderful execution in the final third.
Fair enough, we’re not going to get this every game, in every week, but bravo managers Mitchell and van Egmond for getting out there and having a go, and to the players for executing, at least in attack.
Bravo in particular to Mitchell, who, with only 10 minutes to go, sensing his side had to momentum and needing the points after being the only round 1 loser, had the guts to introduce a striker (Rukavytsya) for the midfielder (Lee).
Too often in the A-League we have seen like-for-like, or negative change. Mitchell, his men, and the Perth faithful, looked like they’d got their reward, but the champions and their captain had other ideas.
It was harsh on the Glory, and not for the first time.
As much as most A-League managers will want to focus on the defence, let’s hope this game set the benchmark for season IV, and isn’t reflected on later in the season as an aberration.
Newcastle had the better of the early going, getting the ball on the deck and stretching Perth’s back-four, especially in the wide areas, where Song and Thompson troubled Doyle, and Joel Griffiths, Zura, Elrich and Holland took turns to expose the space in behind Topor-Stanley. While the penalty was harsh on Djulbic, there was no doubt Newcastle were good value for their lead.
For a while it looked the Jets would run away with it, but Perth soon settled, with Amaral getting involved, and the other two imports, Trindad and Dadi getting on the ball. Trinidad was soon running the show with his wonderful first-touch, awareness and ability to link.
With Dadi presenting and Trindad proving a handful for North and Adam Griffiths, it allowed Perth to keep the ball and start winning set pieces. This was their vehicle back in. Lee’s in-swinging delivery from the right was excellent, while Pellegrino provided a couple of neat right footed replica’s from the left.
With Song also whipping in some beauties, Holland known to have some dead-ball quality, and others likes Sydney’s Shannon Cole and Mitchell Prentice impressing, it’s great to see the overall set-piece quality on the improve. It is an area the national team needs to improve.
Clearly everyone has been watching Euro 2008, where the in-swinger to the back post was king.
In the second period Amaral took over, running the show and really giving Pellegrino, and every other midfielder in Australia, something to look up to. ‘Ok everyone, this is how you own a game’, that was the message.
While Song deserved his goal for another eye-catching display (some player), there’s no doubt it was a combination of luck and poor defending from Bulloch. But Glory refused to die.
Their equaliser was a beaut, a series of precise one-touches from the three imports. Bulloch ducked in from the left and squared it to Trinidad, who, with his prodigious right foot clipped a first time ball into the right hand channel, where Amaral, driving forward, wrapped a wonderful first time cross, whipped and wicked, onto the head of the powerful Dadi.
Mitchell rolled the dice and looked like he’d played the masterstroke, but forward came the Jets skipper for one last thrust. An incredible end to an unbelievable night.